…because some thoughts are worth remembering
“It’s meant to be hard,” said Edgy Lee, in the middle of her speech about her career, describing the process of fund raising to get a documentary made. Her words struck a chord with me at the time because I was in the middle of raising funds for a spinoff company of LavaNet, an Internet Service Provider I co-founded. Somehow just acknowledging the experience for what it is, made it easier for me to accept. I was able to concentrate on doing the best job possible given the circumstances, rather than wishing there was an easier way, or doubting myself that somehow “I’m doing it wrong” because it felt difficult. It allowed me to give myself a break, for feeling what I was feeling.
Since then, I’ve uttered that phrase to myself on different occasions from professional to personal: getting opposing parties to collaborate to result in a better piece of legislation, considering layoffs, mustering up the courage to confront family members about their health matters, trying to make sense of a friend’s suicide. I also found myself repeating this phrase to my friends who seemed to be going through a difficult time. The phrase allowed me to share my compassion with my friends whose mixture of horrible emotions, from exhaustion and despair to panic and stress, can be wrapped up in a bundle as “hard but normal given the circumstance”.
I felt a deeper understanding and appreciation of Mary Oliver’s poem, Dogfish:
Dogfish by Mary Oliver
Some kind of relaxed and beautiful thing
kept flickering in with the tide
and looking around.
Black as a fisherman’s boot,
with a white belly.
If you asked for a picture I would have to draw a smile
under the perfectly round eyes and above the chin,
which was rough
as a thousand sharpened nails.
And you know
what a smile means,
the past to go away, I wanted
to leave it, like another country; I wanted
my life to close, and open
like a hinge, like a wing, like the part of the song
where it falls
down over the rocks: an explosion, a discovery;
to hurry into the work of my life; I wanted to know,
whoever I was, I was
for a little while.
It was evening, and no longer summer.
Three small fish, I don’t know what they were,
huddled in the highest ripples
as it came swimming in again, effortless, the whole body
one gesture, one black sleeve
that could fit easily around
the bodies of three small fish.
Also I wanted
to be able to love. And we all know
how that one goes,
the dogfish tore open the soft basins of water.
You don’t want to hear the story
of my life, and anyway
I don’t want to tell it, I want to listen
to the enormous waterfalls of the sun.
And anyway it’s the same old story – – –
a few people just trying,
one way or another,
Mostly, I want to be kind.
And nobody, of course, is kind,
for a simple reason.
And nobody gets out of it, having to
swim through the fires to stay in
And look! look! look! I think those little fish
better wake up and dash themselves away
from the hopeless future that is
bulging toward them.
if they don’t waste time
looking for an easier world,
they can do it.